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From a graduating student to a working professional!

Graduating college is a true milestone in a person’s life, rightfully so. Earning a degree takes perseverance, hard work and dedication. For public relations graduates, it can also mean accumulating as much experience as possible through internships, leadership roles and volunteering. From understanding theories to creating public relations campaigns to interning alongside professionals creating media lists or pitching a reporter, a lot can be learned prior to graduation. But the learning shouldn’t stop just because you have your diploma.

There are many skills that new professionals will learn, some will come easily, others will be more difficult to comprehend.  We’ve all been down that difficult road and it’s a guarantee we will find ourselves down it again. But, these challenges don’t mean the end of the world as we know it (as I channel my inner R.E.M). These are opportunities to learn, to grow and to become something great.

Here are some tips for new public relations professionals entering the workforce:

Believe in yourself – There will be times when your opinions and advice are needed, whether on a client project or to help someone on your team. People working in public relations need to be swift, responsive and adaptive, and it’s important to stand firm on your decisions. You may not think your opinions matter much when you’re new in your career,  but vocalizing your opinions in a clear and concise manner will allow for constructive feedback. It’s helpful to have this feedback because one day you will be in charge of making decisions without much guidance.

Understand your role – This goes beyond understanding your job description. It’s important to understand your role within the company, team and clients’ work – each will have a different purpose. I can’t tell you what your role is, but I can recommend taking time to really think about how you can help your coworkers, your boss and your clients. Understand what their needs are by listening to understand rather than just listening to respond.

Keep your eyes and ears open – Did you hear about a new column in a magazine that might benefit your coworker’s client? Tell the team! Did something happen in the news nationally that is related to your client’s industry? Localize it! Make sure to be in the know, stay in the know and educate your team on what you know. Being a resource for others is a great trait to have as a PR pro.

Starting your career is an exciting time – and working in PR will certainly keep the momentum going. As exciting as it is, it can be overwhelming, so if any you have any questions about working in the public relations industry, specifically at an agency, feel free to leave a question in the comments! For more information on how to be successful in your first full-time position, check out these five tips found from my earlier post, Tips for First Full-Time Position Success.

Shelby Ray
Shelby Ray
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

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